Debt of gratitude


Tonight’s the Hall of Fame game, followed by the actual Hall of Fame induction on Monday, so maybe now’s as good a time as ever to reflect for a moment on one of this year’s inductees, Herb Brooks.

There’s been volumes written about the influence of the Brooks-led “Miracle on Ice” team that upset the Soviets and won the gold in 1980 (if you’re looking for a excellent account, read Wayne Coffey’s book, “The Boys of Winter”). Some of the praise has been overstated, some of it not emphatic enough.

But maybe the best reflection of Brooks’ impact on hockey can be found on a simple professional roster. The Rangers are currently carrying four U.S. born players (Matt Cullen, Adam Hall, Jed Ortmeyer, and Ryan Hollweg), but in Hartford, there are 10, among them sure-fire prospects Brandon Dubinsky, Al Montoya, and Ryan Callahan (not to mention the likes of Greg Moore and Hugh Jessiman). All of those players grew up playing in the wake of that win, at a time when it suddenly wasn’t absurd for American-born hockey players to harbor hopes of being among the best in the world.

I grew up during that era as well. My older brother had already been playing, so odds are I would have followed him regardless, but there’s no question youth hockey programs were booming in large part because of what Brooks and that 1980 team accomplished.

A number of people around the Rangers, from writers to scouts to coaches, knew Brooks, and had the pleasure of learning from one of the sharpest minds in the game. I never did. The closest I came was in 1992, when I was a high school senior playing in the state hockey final four in Utica, and Brooks was then coaching the AHL Utica Devils. It was hardly an inspired scene: the coach leading a practice in a depressing old minor league rink. We were on next, and I remember watching from the stands.

It’s funny. I’ve seen hundreds of hockey practices over the years, many of them featuring the best players in the game. That’s the only time I can remember that my eyes never left the coach.


No morning skate for the Rangers today as they prepare for the last of their three-game swoop through the Southeastern Conference. So far, so good. The team survived an uneven performance against the Panthers on Wednesday, and last night put together probably its best effort of the year in a 5-2 undressing of the Thrashers. I don’t know who’ll be in net tonight against the Capitals, but I’ll pass it along when I have it.

Until then…

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  1. I was born in ’80 so i honestly never felt the impact of brooks, at least in the cultural manner, but we hockey fans owe him a lot.

    btw, see Miracle if you havent already. AWESOME flick.

  2. I was 22 years old and remember that game like it was yesterday because that was the most emotional game to watch and these young college american kids beat that great russian team. I will never forget when the camera showed the russian players faces expression watching the kids celebrating on the ice. I remember feeling over whelming emotion because at the time what was going on in the world with russia and america. I also remember when Herb Brooks coached the rangers. We had little guys but they were fast and exciting to watch and if it wasn’t for the islanders we might of gone to a cup finals. Herb Brooks was a great coach and led the way for american born hockey players to find there way to the NHL.

  3. Who starts in goal tonight?

    I think you go with Weekes for two reasons.

    Let Lundqvist sit on a good performance for a few days.

    Weekes is going to be needed later this week against the Devils or Canes and 10 or 11 days off is a lot to ask of him..again.

  4. Henrik will most likely sit tonight as the Devils game is in MSG and Henrik had a great game against them last time, heck, it was the last home win wasn’t it? Then they play the following night in Carolina … so Weekes probably starts again

  5. Id play Weekes, but honestly you cant fault Renney if he goes with Henrik. You really want to get Henrik going, hes shown signs the last 2 games, but I think we can all agree his game isnt near what it was last year….YET.

  6. about Dawes and Pock: Can either kill NHL penalties? Apparently, Hossa has that ability usefullness, unless my math fails me, without him, there are not 3 full PK units.

  7. there is no way to overstate it. a recent poll of general sports fans, not hockey fans, voted the 1980 Miracle on Ice THE GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT of the 20th century, period.

    And it is about time that the Hall of Fame committee woke up and did the right thing.

  8. Hi, I’ve been a lurker on this site for a while, and have really been enjoying reading everyone’s comments. I’m in Manhattan, and I notice it says in various listings that tonight’s Ranger’s game is on “MSG2.” Some quick research reveals that, uh, it doesn’t seem like that is an actual channel? I read somewhere that MSG2 means it will be on FSN, but my Time Warner Cable listings say that FSN will be showing the Devils game. So is there no way to watch the Rangers game tonight, on Time Warner Cable? Thanks for any hints.

  9. Jonathan Probber on

    Sam – Thanks for acknowledging Herb Brooks. All of the static this weekend is about Roy, Dickie Duff(why is he here) and the troubles going forward for the HOF – There’s a logjam coming up; interesting to see how they handle it.

  10. Jonathan Probber on

    Bard – I’m in Rye, and MSG 2 is on 15….We’re Cablevision. Maybe check Time Warner website for MSG 2 station…

  11. Thanks for your response Jonathan. Unfortunately the TWC site does not mention an MSG2 channel at all.

  12. what about Dawes?

    Can they play him once in a while, he is 20 yrs old, Hossa really is a waste…

  13. Hey Jonathan Probber,
    I also have cablevision and normally when all three local hockey teams are playing I notice that the islanders are on channel 15 but according to the tv listing there is no game on 15. I remember last year when this situation happened and the knicks were on msg and either the devils or islanders were on fsn the ranger game was taped delayed. I had to wait until the stupid knicks game was over with and than they would show the ranger game on msg. I just checked the tv listing and that is exactly what there doing in my area. I have to wait until the knick game is over with and than there showing the ranger game on tape delay at midnight. I live on eatern long island so it might be different depending on your location. It sucks for me, dam those idiots that call themselves the knicks.

  14. I see if you subscribe to the digital service it is 414 in my area, unfortunately I subscribe to family basic so I have to wait until the knick game is over with and than they will show the ranger game on msg.

  15. Evgeni, thanks — I’ll give that a try. Channel 60 says it’s CSPAN2, and at 7:00 they’re showing Book TV. But maybe somehow at 7 it will magically become MSG2, and I’ll be a happy camper.

    Tom G, it seems like it’s the same for me on TWC. Basically they show “Rangers in 60” late at night which is an hour-long edited summary of the game. It sucks to not see it live. Although I’ll give Evgeni’s suggestion a try.

  16. Hossa, Hossa, Hossa…jeeze…what I’d give for one day without reading someone crabbing about Hossa. Were you to just read the comments on the chat bases, you’d believe that ALL the Rangers’ problems and the SOUL reason for the slow start is Hossa. True, he hasn’t logged a point yet in 15 games, but what he has done is killed penalties, blocked shots and played an all-around defensively sound game. Were he skating with guys that had even an ounce of offensive skill, he’d have some offensive numbers(see last year’s quick start when he was skating on second line). No, I don’t think Hossa will ever be even half the player his brother is, but he’s got the skills to be a very servicable third line winger. He gets on average eight minutes of play and has yet to my knowledge done anything to deserve the -7 +/- rating that people rag about all the time. Still, it’s Hossa this, Hossa that. I’ll watch tonights game again in search of this horrid play that everyone else seems to see. But chances are pretty good I’ll see the same thing I always do, which is a solid NHL player who for some reason has polarized a contingent of fans. Maybe as some have said, he’ll be on the loosing end of Ortmeyer’s return -something I’m not convinced of at this point.

  17. I decided to flip the channels around and i can’t beleive it but the ranger game is on channel 14 in my area, excellent. The pregame is on.

  18. Trautwig is so lousy doing play-by-play. If Sam Rosen is so beholden to football that he won’t do the Rangers full-time, then get a new announcer.

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